Coffeehouse Thread

12 posts

Why the foot-dragging with 64 bit?

Back to Forum: Coffeehouse
  • User profile image
    Heywood_J

    Seriously.  This is not a troll.  I don't get it.

    64 bit CPUs and 64 bit versions of Windows have been available for quite some time now.  I just ordered all the parts to build a screamin' new dual-core system.  But I'll have to install the 32 bit version of Windows (probably XP but maybe Vista) because there are no 64 bit drivers available for most of my hardware.

    But, even worse -- I figured I would bite the bullet, get rid of all my old hardware (sound card, scanner, etc) and buy new stuff -- but there are no 64 bit drivers for most brand new hardware!!!!!

    What's the deal?


  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Do you need 64-bit? 

    Neither do most other people, so since there isn't a demand for the drivers, the drivers aren't being written.

  • User profile image
    Heywood_J

    ScanIAm wrote:
    Do you need 64-bit? 

    Neither do most other people, so since there isn't a demand for the drivers, the drivers aren't being written.


    Microsoft, Intel and AMD are spending a lot of time and money making 64 bit stuff that nobody needs?????  I don't think so.  Personally, I could use the extra memory, and I'm sure a lot of other people could too.

    If you look at the companies that sell computer hardware (Newegg, etc) you'd be hard pressed to even find a 32 bit CPU.  So obviously there's a whole lot of people out there with 64 bit hardware.


  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Heywood_J wrote:
    
    ScanIAm wrote:
    Do you need 64-bit? 

    Neither do most other people, so since there isn't a demand for the drivers, the drivers aren't being written.


    Microsoft, Intel and AMD are spending a lot of time and money making 64 bit stuff that nobody needs?????  I don't think so.  Personally, I could use the extra memory, and I'm sure a lot of other people could too.

    That sounds great when you say it, but you don't, actually, need 64 bit, do you?  You want it, sure, but you don't need it.

    Most people don't need it, but a few people do, hence the development by intel, amd, and msft.  And, the fact that you can run 32 Windows on a 64-bit machine means that someone had to also spend some time to make that happen.

    Sometime in the future, a critical mass of users will find that they need more memory address space or other features of 64-bit machines, but that day hasn't arrived.  Until then, you don't get 64-bit drivers.

    Heywood_J wrote:

    If you look at the companies that sell computer hardware (Newegg, etc) you'd be hard pressed to even find a 32 bit CPU.  So obviously there's a whole lot of people out there with 64 bit hardware.

    And those people are running just fine, aren't they?

    Maybe you do need more memory, and if so, then you get to be on the cutting edge and deal with the problems.  3rd party hardware manufacturer doesn't have the time, money, or inclination to develop 64-bit drivers.  So, like emet/uriel/whatever says, use *nix.

  • User profile image
    Cuffy

    I'm running XP Pro 64x and love it. MS offers a free trial good for 120 days and it runs on a Celeron with em64 feature. ZoneAlarm won't run, FileNote won't either but that's about it so far. It's well worth a shot!
    Longhorn server is also available as free trial from MS. That's 64bit.

  • User profile image
    TimP

    Most boxes larger than desktops need 64-bit support and have been using it for years. A common misconception is that 32-bit means you can only have a total of 4GB of RAM in your box. What it really means is each process can only address 4GB of RAM and your system will happily plug away and use more than 4GB of RAM. How many applications do you run that need more than 4GB of RAM? Currently usage like that is in the realm of mail servers, database servers, rendering software, and so on. Most desktop users don't need it.

    The perceived performance gains of 64-bit software is mostly a myth, too. The majority of benchmarks show no appreciable speed gains running 64-bit applications as opposed to their 32-bit counterparts.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    That's not entirely accurate.

    With a 32 bit system, there is only 32 bits of physical address space. This means a maximum of 4GB physical memory (in addition, some hardware will map itself into the phyisical address space so not all of that 4GB will actually be usable). Most 32 bit CPUs support Physical Address Extension (PAE) that extends physical addressing to 36 bit, allowing a theoretical maximum or 64GB (non-server versions of Windows still won't allow you to use more than 4GB, but that's not a hardware limitation).

    In addition to this, the virtual address space for a process is also limited to 32 bits (for the simple reason that pointers are that size). Typically half of that is reserved for the OS leaving a maximum amount of memory of 2GB per process. By using the /3G switch when Windows boots, the user-mode addresses are increased to 3GB (but only for executables that use the IMAGE_FILE_LARGE_ADDRESS_AWARE flag), leaving only 1GB for the OS (and the hardware!).

    A 64 bit system has 64 bits of physical address space, so can in theory address around 16 zettabyte (16 million TB). No current 64 bit CPU or motherboard actually supports that much, for practical reasons.

    On 64 bit Windows, a 32 bit process typically still gets 2GB address space. For executables with the IMAGE_FILE_LARGE_ADDRESS_AWARE flag, they get 4GB. 64 bit processes get 8TB of address space.

    Yes, it's typically server apps that need that much memory. Using the /3G switch is typically associated with things like Exchange. However, apparently Flight Simulator X can run out of virtual address space when all sliders are set to maximum.

    So at least for really demanding games, 64 bit on the desktop can offer an advantage. Applications like image or video editing could also benefit from the additional memory, I would imagine.

    EDIT: Running Vista x64 here. Smiley

  • User profile image
    TimP

    Thanks for the clarification Sven, I had a question on one point.

    Sven Groot wrote:
    With a 32 bit system, there is only 32 bits of physical address space. This means a maximum of 4GB physical memory (in addition, some hardware will map itself into the phyisical address space so not all of that 4GB will actually be usable).


    Since I got my current computer, I've been unsure if the hardware or the software is to blame about that limitation. I have a 64-bit processor and I run 32-bit XP and 64-bit Linux. For a few months I had the chance to run it with 4GB of RAM, but the BIOS only showed 3.5GB. Now in this case, running a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system didn't matter. Would the culprit actually be the memory controller in the Northbridge?

  • User profile image
    cain

    I'm running 64 bit Vista on my desktop computer and had no problems getting drivers for any of my hardware - you just have to make sure you buy the right brands.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    TimP wrote:
    Since I got my current computer, I've been unsure if the hardware or the software is to blame about that limitation. I have a 64-bit processor and I run 32-bit XP and 64-bit Linux. For a few months I had the chance to run it with 4GB of RAM, but the BIOS only showed 3.5GB. Now in this case, running a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system didn't matter. Would the culprit actually be the memory controller in the Northbridge?

    As I indicated, this is caused by the hardware sharing some of the physical address space of the memory. In 32 bit with PAE, or in 64 bit, I think it should be possible for either the hardware or the upper portion of RAM to use addresses above 4GB.

    Maybe this is a BIOS option, or a limitation of your motherboard, I don't know. What's your motherboard?

  • User profile image
    TimP

    Sven Groot wrote:
    Maybe this is a BIOS option, or a limitation of your motherboard, I don't know. What's your motherboard?


    ASUS NCCH-DL, it's a bit of a desktop/server board b*stard child that supports dual processors in an ATX form factor without requiring ECC RAM.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    TimP wrote:
    
    Sven Groot wrote:
    Maybe this is a BIOS option, or a limitation of your motherboard, I don't know. What's your motherboard?


    ASUS NCCH-DL, it's a bit of a desktop/server board b*stard child that supports dual processors in an ATX form factor without requiring ECC RAM.

    Checking the manual for that motherboard, I see the following text: "When all four sockets are populated with 1GB DIMMs (total 4GB), the system may detect only about 3.6+ GB (less than 4GB) due to resource allocation of onboard devices."

    This seems to suggest that your motherboard does not support memory remapping and can thus not use the full 4GB.

Comments closed

Comments have been closed since this content was published more than 30 days ago, but if you'd like to continue the conversation, please create a new thread in our Forums, or Contact Us and let us know.